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Ex Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon wins National's Botany candidacy, set to battle Jami-Lee Ross at 2020 election

Former Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon has won the National Party candidacy for the seat of Botany, set to go up against independent MP Jami-Lee Ross at next year's election.

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Q+A's Jack Tame crossed live to the selection meeting for Mr Luxon's first comments and got analysis from Michelle Boag. Source: Q+A

Mr Luxon was elected on the first ballot and TVNZ1's Q+A crossed live to the selection meeting for his first comments after his win.

"I feel like I'm starting in the third form again - arrive at a new school and away we go," Mr Luxon said. 

"But I want to acknowledge all the amazing people that have been in the process with me, We've been on this journey together."

He was up against current National list MP Agnes Loheni, who made her way into Parliament after Christopher Finlayson's departure earlier this year. 

Agnes Loheni Source: Supplied by National Party

Mr Luxon paid tribute to Ms Loheni, saying, "She's done an amazing job for us already in Parliament. And I'm looking forward to really getting to partner up with you and learn a lot form you in the coming weeks and months together."

Former National Party president and long-time campaigner for the party, Michelle Boag, told Q+A Mr Luxon's selection "confirms that National is an attractive alternative in terms of government, because you've got someone who's highly respected, a very good quality candidate. And he wants to stand up and say 'I want to be in the National Party'.".

Asked what are his values and what does he care about, Ms Boag said, "He has Christian values, he's made no secret of that."

She added: "But you can just tell form the few words we saw there, I think his particular skill is engaging with people, bringing them on board. And that seems to have been the sort of behaviour he exhibited at Air New Zealand - his leadership style."

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Former Air NZ boss Christopher Luxon is the front runner, with the winner taking on current MP Jami-Lee Ross. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Luxon told 1 NEWS in October he would be putting his candidate nomination to the National Party for the electorate of Botany, and that he looked forward "to the robust democratic selection process ahead with the local membership".

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The much-speculated move was confirmed during an exclusive interview today with 1 NEWS political reporter Jessica Mutch McKay. Source: 1 NEWS

Despite not living in Botany, Mr Luxon said he grew up in the electorate and still has family ties there.

Mr Luxon announced his resignation from Air NZ in June – sparking a flurry of speculation over his political intentions.

The move saw Mr Luxon's first appearance with one per cent as preferred Prime Minister in the 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll in July.

At the time, Mr Luxon said he was interested in joining the National Party when he finished with Air NZ in September. National leader Simon Bridges said National would welcome Mr Luxon with open arms but the party did not have a "clear sense" of his intentions.

The Botany electorate seat for National has been contentious since Mr Ross’ explosive departure from the party last year. Mr Ross resigned from the party in October 2018, but remained in Parliament as an independent MP.

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Q+A’s Whena Owen meets former National MP Jami-Lee Ross, who is facing a battle to keep Botany. Source: Q+A

After Mr Luxon announced his intentions on October 10, Mr Ross released a statement saying he had always welcomed "a good, old-fashioned, grassroots election campaign". 

"It’s arrogant for National to believe they can fix their leadership problems by parachuting someone in who will automatically win an electorate seat," he wrote. 

"While Botany people know they have in me someone who sits in the middle of both parties and will work with either side to advance local issues, others see themselves racing to Wellington to advance their own personal aspirations the day after an election."

Short-lived rumours swirled in May this year over the creation of a Christian party led by senior National MP Alfred Ngaro, with the possibility of a deal in Botany. Mr Ngaro decided to stay with National, quashing the prospect.

In the 2017 election, Mr Ross took out the electorate with a 12,839 majority. The party vote saw a 60.8 per cent majority for National, with Labour on less than half at 29.2 per cent.